Oh the vagaries, intricacies, confusion, and obfuscation involved in purchasing something as simple as galvanized anchor chain.
“Galveston Bay has the 3rd largest concentration of recreational boats in the U.S.”¹ You would think that with this being a fact that purchasing anchor chain would be an easy thing in the Houston/Galveston area. I mean, recreational boats need anchors, right? And some of those anchors will be connected to chain, right? And there should be multiple retail outlets selling chain, right? Apparently not. Or at least my research into this fact while attempting to purchase some anchor chain has led me to this conclusion. It was also confirmed by a retail outlet that does not sell and cannot or chooses not to get involved in the drama of anchor chain. BUT, they do sell anchors and 3-strand nylon anchor rode. Go figure.
First, you have to find the chain that matches the pitch and size of your windlass gypsy. This is important so that the chain doesn’t skip and override while you are paying out or hauling in anchor rode. The chain that came on Emet is stamped with “G4”, but this doesn’t really give one the entire picture, so I measured some of the links. I then did some research into what type of chain matched the dimensions of the chain that I have. I came up with Acco Grade 40 Hot Dipped Galvanized Calibrated Windlass Anchor chain. Sweet. I then took the gypsy off the windlass and went to the local West Marine to see if the chain they sold would fit the gypsy. It did and was the exact chain. $6.06 per foot?!?!
Second, you have to find chain that matches your budget. This is the hard part. I’m gonna skip over all the long, drawn out details and summarize. What I found was that you can find chain much cheaper. From $3.50 per foot to $5.50 per foot. The problem is that I could not find ANYONE in the Houston/Galveston area that sold anchor chain other than West Marine. That would mean that I would have to pay to have the chain shipped. Average shipping is around $300. For 100 foot of chain it means that, drum roll please, I am paying right at $6.00 per foot. Oh, you marketing geniuses over at West Marine corporate. You certainly did your homework. This is no coincidence.
Third, not all chain is created equal. I noticed that the our current chain is flaking and scaling badly. I have no idea how old this chain is or how much it has been used, but I’ve seen other chain that gets used way more than our chain in much better condition. I started reading some reviews on different anchor chains. Looked like Acco was purchased by Peerless and the manufacturing facility was moved and that’s when problems started. I didn’t confirm this and we all know how blog comments can go. But, numerous commenters and a few purchase reviews on West Marine’s website noted the same issues with their purchased chain that I was noticing with ours. So, I really didn’t want to sink $600 into something that wasn’t going to last.
I found Maggi Chain being sold in the US. They’re an Italian chain manufacturer and their product seems to get good marks for quality and longevity. Additionally, they started making chain to match the Imperial dimensions for US buyers. So, I purchased 100 feet of their 3/8″ Aqua4.
When I get it, I’ll make a post as to my first impression of the chain quality.
Also, you kind of have to love a company that is associated with this kind of marketing (I can forgive a typo.):
NOTE: I want to say that I have no ill feelings for West Marine. We shop there and have ALWAYS had a good experience. We’ve had a few items that we’ve returned under warranty and they always replaced them without question. I understand that that type of service is built into their prices and sometimes I am willing to pay for it. In this particular instance, I was not. For me, the price I pay is really about the overall value that I receive.